I read "The Help" today. Yes, the whole book in about seven hours.
I'm torn on this book. It was well written, even though the author did the literary equivalent of actors in a "foreign" film speaking in British accents. I understand it on one hand, you need to give life to the characters and want to show how they speak in their way, but gah! it drives my brain crazy.
The other thing that I kind of got bothered by was the white person swooping in to save the black people. If we didn't take care of them, those silly black people, they would just get into a heap of trouble. Now, maybe that wasn't the sentiment, but it kind of felt like it.
One character that I adored was Celia. She didn't seem to understand the "rules" of being white and having a black maid. I dug that. Celia is from a part of Mississippi where even the black folk pity the people who live there, that's how poor it is. I loved how Celia is completely driven, in the end, to do whatever she can to the queen bee of the town.
The other thing that kind of bothered me was that the book was written in chunks based on the character. So Skeeter is one section, Minny is another section, etc. There are three "main" characters, the third being Aibileen. Skeeter, or Eugenia, is the white woman who winds up writing a book of interviews/stories of various black domestics from the town. Being the early 1960s, and being Mississippi, she is exposing herself and her family to danger, which takes a while for her to appreciate and realize. I guess her naivete bothered me a bit, but it doesn't actually surprise after I thought about it for a little bit. She learns a lot during the course of the book, but, at the end, I still think she has a bit of that naivete to get over.
The switching characters thing has never been my favorite kind of writing, but I guess it works sometimes. I guess I just prefer a more linear way of writing. The only time she strays from it is to write the big scene near the end. For me, that was the easiest bit of the book to read. No special dialogue or anything like that, just straight up writing.
Overall, I recommend it as a library read, but it's not something that I would ever pick up again.